If you're on a trail and getting hungry, where can you go? If you're riding a bike along a path and need to pick up a few household items to throw in your backpack, is there a store nearby? These are common questions for trail users and a new website portal called Trailside Services on Trail Finder aims to help solve them by connecting businesses and attractions with trail users.
As an interactive mapping site, Trail Finder guides New Hampshire and Vermont residents and visitors to hiking, snowshoeing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and paddling trails across the region. Thanks to a grant from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, listings on the new Trailside Services portal will be free through April 1, 2021 to businesses and attractions that cater to trail users.
Trail Finder is overseen by the Upper Valley Trails Alliance (UVTA) in collaboration with UNH Cooperative Extension, the Center for Community GIS, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.
Shannon Rogers, state specialist of nature economy for UNH Cooperative Extension, explained, “We work with many community volunteers and economic development groups in New Hampshire that are trying to sustainably leverage their natural assets for economic vibrancy. Trail Finder and its Trailside Services feature are a great opportunity to guide the increased numbers of trail users to local businesses. It is one piece of the puzzle to support economic recovery and resilience during this challenging time.”
The website has seen unprecedented levels of usage this past spring and summer as people in New Hampshire and Vermont have looked for opportunities to recreate close to home.
Russell Hirschler, UVTA’s executive director, said, “We launched Trailside Services because people want to know where to find that après-trail beer, the best local grub and great places to stay near to the trails they are walking, riding or paddling. Although the world has changed, trail users want to continue to support businesses, whether in their home communities or in other parts of the states where they look forward to visiting soon.”
Once listed, businesses will appear on a searchable interactive map of New Hampshire and Vermont as well as on detailed trail pages. Businesses will also be able to provide information about their current offerings regarding safety during the COVID-19 pandemic such as no-contact payment and check-in methods, curbside pick-up, delivery services and online ordering.
“I'm excited to connect my business with trail users by being listed as a Trailside Service on the Trail Finder website. It's valuable exposure to a key market for a small business like mine," said Ri Fahnestock, founder/owner of New England reSoul.
Local attractions can also be eligible trailside services. Cynthia Cutting, director of the Museum of the White Mountains, adds, "Making the connection between the hiking experience of our area trails and the Museum of the White Mountains' information, history, images and inspiration will benefit our existing members as well as to introduce us to new audiences."
Interested businesses and attractions can learn more and sign up online.